|Kevin Stacey||May 29th 2011|
Analysis of a 440-year-old document reveals new details about native population decline in the heartland of the Inca Empire following Spanish conquest in the 16th century.
According to the analysis, the native Andean population in the Yucay Valley of Peru showed a remarkable ability to bounce back in the short term from the disease, warfare, and famine that accompanied the initial Spanish invasion. However, it was the repetition of such disasters generation after generation, along with overly rigid colonial administration, that dramatically reduced the population over the long term.
The research, by R. Alan Covey (Southern Methodist University), Geoff Childs (Washington University in St. Louis), and Rebecca Kippen (University of Melbourne), is published in the June issue of the journal Current Anthropology. Read more ..
Edge on Aging
|Cody Mooneyhan||May 29th 2011|
A new research report shows that what someone drinks after exercise plays a critical role in maximizing the effects of exercise. Specifically, the report shows that protein drinks after aerobic activity increases the training effect after six weeks, when compared to carbohydrate drinks. Additionally, this study suggests that this effect can be seen using as little as 20 grams of protein.
"It is not a mystery that exercise and nutrition help slow the aging process," said Benjamin F. Miller, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. "Studies such as ours help to explain how exercise and nutrition work so that we can better take advantage of those pathways to slow the aging process." The study was published online by the Federation of the American Societies for Experimental Biology, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
To make this discovery, scientists recruited 16 participants age 37 and older and instructed them to exercise on treadmills for 45 minutes three times a week for six weeks. After each bout of exercise, one group was given a protein drink and another group was given a carbohydrate drink. To measure the making of new structures in the muscle, metabolic pathways were measured using heavy water labeling. Subjects consumed heavy water, which becomes incorporated into many synthetic processes allowing measurement of the rates at which different components of the muscle are being made. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Jared Wadley||May 25th 2011|
Without Internet access at home, teens from low income households are more likely than their wealthier counterparts to use their cell phones to go online.
But those teens with the least money who are using their phones for Internet access are likely paying the most to get online, according to a new study by University of Michigan researchers.
U-M researchers Katie Brown, Scott Campbell and Rich Ling wrote the findings in an article recently published in a special issue of the journal Future Internet. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Diane Swanbrow||May 19th 2011|
Want to convince someone to do something? A new University of Michigan study has some intriguing insights drawn from how we speak. The study, presented May 14 at the annual meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, examines how various speech characteristics influence people's decisions to participate in telephone surveys. But its findings have implications for many other situations, from closing sales to swaying voters and getting stubborn spouses to see things your way.
"Interviewers who spoke moderately fast, at a rate of about 3.5 words per second, were much more successful at getting people to agree than either interviewers who talked very fast or very slowly," said Jose Benki, a research investigator at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Yivsam Azgad||May 18th 2011|
Adversity, we are told, heightens our senses, imprinting sights and sounds precisely in our memories. But new Weizmann Institute research, which appeared in Nature Neuroscience, suggests the exact opposite may be the case: Perceptions learned in an aversive context are not as sharp as those learned in other circumstances. The findings, which hint that this tendency is rooted in our species’s evolution, may help to explain how post-traumatic stress syndrome and other anxiety disorders develop in some people.
To investigate learning in unfavorable situations, Dr. Rony Paz of the Institute’s Department of Neurobiology, together with his student Jennifer Resnik, had volunteers learn that some tones lead to an offensive outcome (e.g., a very bad odor), whereas other tones are followed by a pleasant outcome, or else by nothing. The volunteers were later tested for their perceptual thresholds—that is, how well they were able to distinguish either the “bad” or “good” tones from other similar tones. Read more ..
Economic Recovery on Edge
|Amy Biegelsen||May 18th 2011|
Like Kleenex or Xerox, the word “FICO” has become shorthand for an entire industry, in this case the credit scores that determine every American’s access to loans, credit cards, apartment rentals and insurance.
Despite a name that vaguely sounds like it must be federal something-or-other, FICO actually stands for Fair Isaac Corp., a Minneapolis company that creates proprietary mathematical algorithms used to calculate consumer credit scores. But FICO, which had $605 million in revenue last year, is not directly regulated by any government agency and its credit rating formulas are secret.
Credit scores boil down consumer payment histories on short and long-term debts ranging from a home improvement loan to phone bills into a three-digit number between 300 and 850. A score over 650, for example, is generally considered to be pretty good, while a score of 580 is not. Read more ..
A ban on smoking in most public places in China went into effect May 1, a move that health experts say will help raise awareness of the dangers of smoking in a country where tobacco use is deeply ingrained.
There is a lack of public awareness of the health risks of smoking in China. The World Health Organization says seven out of ten non-smoking adults in the East Asian nation are exposed to second-hand smoke each week. Smokers light up in elevators and offices, and even in hospital waiting rooms.
Starting that Sunday, though, the country’s estimated 300 million smokers will no longer be allowed to puff their cigarettes in what the Chinese government is calling "enclosed public places." These include hotels, restaurants, theaters and public transport waiting rooms. The ban does not cover offices or factories. Read more ..
The Way We Are
More than 20 percent of atheist scientists are spiritual, according to new research from Rice University. Though the general public marries spirituality and religion, the study found that spirituality is a separate idea – one that more closely aligns with scientific discovery – for "spiritual atheist" scientists.
Through in-depth interviews with 275 natural and social scientists at elite universities, the Rice researchers found that 72 of the scientists said they have a spirituality that is consistent with science, although they are not formally religious.
"Our results show that scientists hold religion and spirituality as being qualitatively different kinds of constructs," said Elaine Howard Ecklund, assistant professor of sociology at Rice and lead author of the study. "These spiritual atheist scientists are seeking a core sense of truth through spirituality -- one that is generated by and consistent with the work they do as scientists." Read more ..
|Traver Riggins||May 2nd 2011|
|Qatar Embassy, Washington, D.C.|
Four women claim in a civil lawsuit that a high-ranking Qatari diplomat in the United States, and his family, forced them to work around the clock for little pay while enduring emotional abuse and—according to one woman—sexual assault.
The human trafficking lawsuit was filed March 25 in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against Essa Mohamed Al Mannai, Qatar’s second-highest ranking diplomat in the United States. The case has reopened debate over a problem that has vexed U.S. government agencies charged with making sure foreign officials, who enjoy the cover of diplomatic immunity, still obey U.S. laws and labor standards. Read more ..
The Edge of Computing
|Stephen Mather||May 2nd 2011|
Marking a major inflection point, the book publishing industry has entered a period of long-term decline because of the rising sales of e-book readers, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli.
Book revenue for U.S. publishers, including both e-books and paper books, will decrease at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to IHS. This marks a shift from the previous period of 2005 to 2010, when revenue grew slightly, the firm said.
The overall weakening will be spurred by a 5 percent decrease in the CAGR of physical book sales from 2010 to 2014, according to IHS. While e-book sales will soar by 40 percent during the same period, such an increase won’t be sufficient to compensate for the contraction of the larger physical book market, the firm said. Read more ..
The War on Malaria
|Michael Onyiego||April 27th 2011|
|Kenyan Mosquito Scout (credit: Michael Onyiego)|
As World Malaria Day was observed worldwide April 25, Malindi, a city on Kenya’s coast that is fighting malaria through community action, came to the forefront.
As the world works to eliminate malaria deaths by 2015, sub-Saharan Africa is still struggling to confront the continent’s number-one killer of children under the age of five years old. In Malindi, the fight against malaria is a community affair. The city of about 150,000 is on Kenya’s coast, in one of the country’s two hotspots for the disease. For residents of Malindi, malaria not only is a threat to their lives and their children, it is a threat to their livelihoods. Read more ..
The Arab Spring
|Luis Ramirez||April 25th 2011|
|Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri|
It is a sight one would not expect in the Israeli-occupied West Bank: An Italian villa complete with ancient Greek statues, Picassos, and manicured gardens reminiscent of Versailles. Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri, whose personal wealth represents about a third of the Palestinian economy, has turned his extravagant dream into reality. Al Masri spoke at his lavish home near Nablus about his vision for a Palestinian state.
A palace on a hill overlooking Nablus, complete with authentic works of art from Europe.
"When I was 19, I was in Chicago and I saw a Palladian style house and I said to myself at that time when I go back to my home, Palestine, I would like to build a similar house," said Palestinian billionaire Munib Al Masri. Read more ..
|Molly McElroy||April 25th 2011|
Psychologists warn that therapies based on positive emotions may not work for Asians
Thinking happy thoughts, focusing on the good and downplaying the bad is believed to accelerate recovery from depression, bolster resilience during a crisis and improve overall mental health. But a new study by University of Washington psychologists reveals that pursuing happiness may not be beneficial across all cultures.
In a survey of college students, Asian respondents showed no relationship between positive emotions and levels of stress and depression. For European-American participants, however, the more stress and depression they felt, the fewer positive emotions they reported.
The study indicates that psychotherapies emphasizing positive emotions, which can relieve stress and depression in white populations, may not work for Asians, who make up 60 percent of the world population. Read more ..
Russia on Edge
|Taras Burnos and Erika Iskakova||April 25th 2011|
On April 26, 1986 a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl plant caught fire and exploded, sending radioactive debris high into the sky. Aleksey Breus was an engineer at Chernobyl at the time of the explosion. He worked four straight days inside the plant after the explosion. He wore protective equipment, but still received a large dose of radiation.
According to Breus, all “lucheviki” – the Russian word surviving cleanup workers use for describing one another – have been left with one thing in common: illness and a lack of money to pay for medications. He says virtually all of them live in poverty.
Another Chernobyl worker, Aleksander Kramer, says he was one of the first to go into the plant after the explosion. Kramer, who now lives in Germany, remains angry at how he was treated by authorities in what was then the Soviet Union. From the very beginning, he says, the authorities doubted those claiming they were part of the clean-up effort.
And the suspicions have lingered. In 1993, Kramer says former rescue workers had to prove to Ukranian authorities “that their documents were not a sham and that their health problems were real.” Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Peter Dunn||April 25th 2011|
The happiest countries and happiest U.S. states tend to have the highest suicide rates, according to research from the UK’s University of Warwick, Hamilton College in New York and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
The new research paper titled Dark Contrasts: The Paradox of High Rates of Suicide in Happy Places has been accepted for publication in the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization. It uses U.S. and international data, which included first-time comparisons of a newly available random sample of 1.3 million Americans, and another on suicide decisions among an independent random sample of approximately 1 million Americans.
The research confirmed a little known and seemingly puzzling fact: many happy countries have unusually high rates of suicide. This observation has been made from time to time about individual nations, especially in the case of Denmark. This new research found that a range of nations - including: Canada, the United States, Iceland, Ireland and Switzerland, display relatively high happiness levels and yet also have high suicide rates. Nevertheless the researchers note that, because of variation in cultures and suicide-reporting conventions, such cross-country scatter plots are only suggestive. To confirm the relationship between levels of happiness and rates of suicide within a geographical area, the researchers turned to two very large data sets covering a single country, the United States. Read more ..
America on Edge
|Jared Wadley||April 20th 2011|
The wealth gap in the United States between white and black households with children nearly doubled to $47,000 between 1994 and 2007, according to a new report.
"Diverging Pathways: How Wealth Shapes Opportunity for Children," written by University of Michigan researcher Trina Shanks released by the Insight Center for Economic Development, found that the percentage of black households with no net worth or living in debt is on the rise.
In 2007, about 70 percent of Latino and black households with young children were poor and 40 percent had no financial assets—more than twice the respective rates for white households. Read more ..
Japan after the Quake
|Steve Herman||April 18th 2011|
Some residents forced to flee their homes a month ago, when radiation began spewing from a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant, are making furtive trips back into the so-called hot zone.
In Namie—about 15 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant—a dog crossing the main intersection is initially the only sign of life. The traffic lights still cycle between red and green. But, within the space of an hour, only a few cars pass through the intersection, paying no heed to the signal.
The virtual silence is only broken when a powerful aftershock rattles the already damaged downtown buildings and the pavement rumbles. Elsewhere in Fukushima prefecture, the tremor knocks out power to thousands of homes and temporarily forces a halt to repair work at the damaged reactors. Read more ..
|Deborah Block||April 18th 2011|
Hilton Kelley won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for his work confronting refineries on pollution in the town of Port Arthur, Texas
A resident of Texas has won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Award for his work confronting refineries on pollution in the town of Port Arthur. The city has a population of 60,000 and one of the highest levels of air pollution in the United States. Hilton Kelley has spent a decade fighting to lower Port Arthur's air pollution through protests and legal action against major oil and chemical companies. The Goldman award is funded by the family of Richard Goldman, a San Francisco philanthropist who died last year.
Hilton Kelley grew up in a poor, African-American neighborhood.
"I was born and raised in Port Arthur, Texas, right next to the refineries," said Kelley. Read more ..
The Battle for Libya
|Elizabeth Arrott||April 18th 2011|
Atem is 17 years old. Before the Libyan uprising began, she was finishing her last year in high school and acting very much her age. "I just like hanging with my friends. We all go out, like, every Thursday night, every weekend," Atem said. "I like movies. I like music. I'm addicted to Facebook. I love the Internet. It was normal."
Her English, learned in school and honed through those movies and music, helped her strike up Internet friendships around the world. And that's when she began to realize how far from normal the perception of her country was. Read more ..
|Diane Swanbrow||April 13th 2011|
The first national study of the prevalence of multiple partner fertility shows that 28 percent of all U.S. women with two or more children have children by more than one man.
The study was presented in Washington, D.C., at the annual meeting of the Population Association of America.
"I was surprised at the prevalence," said demographer Cassandra Dorius, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. "Multiple partner fertility is an important part of contemporary American family life, and a key component to the net of disadvantage that many poor and uneducated women face every day." Read more ..
Algeria on Edge
|Lisa Bryant||April 11th 2011|
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Algiers’s historic Casbah, or old quarter, bears the hallmarks and the scars of the country’s turbulent past. During the bloody “black decade“ of Algeria’s 1990s civil war, the Casbah was the feared bastion of Islamist terrorists. Now that ordinary residents and a few visitors have returned, and a new battle is underway to save what one historian calls the “heart“ of Algeria.
Sounds of construction fill the air as Abdelkarim Bouchouada, secretary-general of the Casbah Foundation, a local preservation group, takes me on a tour of Algiers’ historic Casbah. The oldest quarter of Algeria's capital is a maize of narrow streets lined with whitewashed houses, graceful fountains and the occasional, stunning Ottoman palace. Read more ..
Russia on Edge
|James Brooke||April 11th 2011|
A massive hacker attack knocked Russia’s most popular opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, off the internet on April 8. Earlier last week, three days of hacker attacks repeatedly knocked out LiveJournal, the nation’s main platform for blogs.
As Russia’s roughly 40 million internet users digested these attacks, the nation’s top communications security official proposed on April 9 to ban Skype, Hotmail, and Gmail as uncontrolled threats to Russian security. It is unclear if the official from Russia’s FSB, the successor agency to the Soviet KGB, will get his way.
With Russia’s internet users expanding by 10,000 people a day, security officials fret about the internet - a vast, uncontrolled cyberspace. After the youth revolts spread through the Arab world, the FSB proposed that every Russian user of Facebook and other social networks be required to sign user contracts that included passport information and home addresses. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||April 6th 2011|
Cutting Edge Senior Correspondent
|Murdered migrants in Tamaulipas, Mexico|
According to the UN Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, “it’s obvious that in Mexico the so-called ‘migration business’ exists and it is very worrying that the government has made no significant progress in prosecuting those responsible for human trafficking,” criticizing Mexico for its apparent inability to catch and prosecute human traffickers. “Migrants traveling across Mexico are prone to extortion and kidnapping by criminal organizations associated with drug trafficking,” commented Francisco Carrion Mena, a member of the committee meeting in Switzerland on April 4. Read more ..
Islam's War Against Christians
|Angela Shanahan||April 4th 2011|
A disturbing feature of the crisis in Egypt has been the paucity of any discussion of the implications of the possible rise of fanatical Islamists for Christians, particularly the sizeable Coptic Christian population, estimated at between 10-15 percent of the Egyptian population. The few vague references to their fate were generally voiced as an afterthought to reflections on the repression of women.
This puzzling gap is characteristic of Western analysts who respond only to political and economic explanations. But these have little to do with the deeper social historical complexities of the Middle East and everything to do with religion and the culture. Western analysts seldom understand the importance of religion. Unless conflict has an overt political face it is usually a mystery to them. Yet Christians were out on the street with their fellow Egyptians when Mubarak was ousted, desperate to ward off an Islamic take-over. In fact the persecution of Copts has intensified over the past 20 years even though few in the West have paid attention to it. Read more ..
The Race for Solar
|Arwa Aburawa||April 4th 2011|
For many living in the harsh and desolate deserts of south Jordan, life without electricity is the norm. Either the infrastructure which provides electricity doesn’t reach them or they simply don’t have the money to afford it. However, all that looks set to change as two women bring to light the advantages of solar energy.
Two Jordanian Bedouin women have recently returned from a six-month course at a unique college in India where they were trained as solar engineers. The two women, who are illiterate and have never been employed, were carefully selected by the elders in the village to attend the course at Barefoot College in India which helps poor rural communities become more sustainable. Read more ..
The Psychology Edge
|Diane Swanbrow||April 4th 2011|
Physical pain and intense feelings of social rejection "hurt" in the same way, a new study shows.
The study demonstrates that the same regions of the brain that become active in response to painful sensory experiences are activated during intense experiences of social rejection.
"These results give new meaning to the idea that social rejection 'hurts'," said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "On the surface, spilling a hot cup of coffee on yourself and thinking about how rejected you feel when you look at the picture of a person that you recently experienced an unwanted break-up with may seem to elicit very different types of pain.
"But this research shows that they may be even more similar than initially thought."
Kross, an assistant professor at the U-M Department of Psychology and faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR), conducted the study with U-M colleague Marc Berman, Columbia University's Walter Mischel and Edward Smith, also affiliated with the New York State Psychiatric Institute, and with Tor Wager of the University of Colorado, Boulder. Read more ..
The Way We Are
|Bernie DeGroat||March 30th 2011|
People with a strong moral identity are measurably inspired to do good after being exposed to media stories about uncommon acts of human goodness, says a researcher at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
A new study by Brent McFerran, assistant professor of marketing at the Ross School, and colleague Karl Aquino, a professor at the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, shows that exposure to media accounts of extraordinary virtue can spur "moral elevation"—thoughts and emotions about being a better person.
People who experience this moral elevation, they say, are more readily disposed to take positive moral action, including giving to charity. Read more ..
Edge on Environment
|Jim Erickson||March 30th 2011|
When local residents are allowed to make rules about managing nearby forests, the forests are more likely to provide greater economic benefits to households and contain more biodiversity, two University of Michigan researchers and a colleague conclude from an analysis of forest practices in tropical developing countries of East Africa and South Asia. Lauren Persha and Arun Agrawal of the University of Michigan and Ashwini Chhatre of the University of Illinois used evidence from more than 80 forest sites in six tropical countries to test how local participation affects social and ecological benefits from forests.
The social benefits include access to forest products that households rely on for their subsistence, such as firewood, fodder for livestock and timber for housing. The main ecological benefit is higher biodiversity in the tropical forests. Read more ..
|Francis Philips||March 28th 2011|
|Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatria|
If Hollywood were a building with its own flag, it would surely be flying at half-mast since the news of the death of Elizabeth Taylor on March 23. She had been one of the brightest and most enduring stars in Tinseltown’s glittering constellation.
But why on earth should her death matter to us ordinary mortals who have never known her except as a regular of the gossip columns? This is the question I have been asking myself as I scanned the obituaries wheeled out in the wake of her death.
Predictably, they emphasized the many sensational aspects of her life: the eight marriages, the addiction to drugs and alcohol, the extravagant lifestyle, the succession of dramatic and life-threatening illnesses. For Taylor, life eclipsed the art; in the intervals of this real-life Theatre she acted in a string of unmemorable films -- with a couple of notable exceptions. I saw the film of Edward Albee’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? when it came out in 1966 and thought her Oscar fully deserved. Critics might say that in the part of Martha, the foul-mouthed, sexually voracious alcoholic, she simply played herself; actually, in a memorable performance she brought to the part all the intensity, pathos and neediness of Martha and her ruined illusions. Read more ..
El Salvador on Edge
|Robert Cavooris||March 28th 2011|
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
President Obama arrived in El Salvador on March 22 in order to hold up that country as an example of what Latin American states can achieve through cooperation with the United States. Given the Central American country’s acquiescence in the militarization of Washington’s regional War on Drugs, and its enactment of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) after a bruising domestic struggle, Obama observed, “There are few better examples of both the opportunities and challenges facing the Americas today than here in El Salvador.” Obama and his counterpart, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes, discussed a number of issues, including the advancement of military and civilian counter-drug initiatives, an additional $200 million in U.S. funds for Salvadoran legal institutions, and immigration reform affecting the nearly two million Salvadoran citizens in the United States. Discussion of reforming CAFTA however, which is a primary demand of civil society organizations in El Salvador, was conspicuously absent from the agenda. Such a renegotiation could profoundly affect not only El Salvador, but also the other signatories of the agreement: Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic.
Local activist groups and a broader coalition of international civil society organizations used the arrival of the U.S. president to stage a popular protest under the banner of autodeterminación, or self-determination. In addition to calling for a renegotiation of CAFTA, their demands included an end to the U.S. embargo against Cuba, a withdrawal of the U.S. military from El Salvador, and a cessation of U.S. support for the tainted Porfirio Lobos regime in neighboring Honduras. CAFTA was a particularly contentious item at the protests because Obama’s trip coincided with an arbitration hearing at the World Bank (originally scheduled for March 23 but presently postponed) that will determine El Salvador’s responsibilities to American investors under the terms of the free trade agreement. Read more ..
The Music Edge
|Adam Philips||March 28th 2011|
Wide-eyed high schoolers mingled with world-class talent recently at New York's Carnegie Hall. Since 1991, professional choruses have attended a week of master workshops, rehearsing a major choral work to be performed for the public at the famed music hall.
This year was a bit different. In order to celebrate its 20th anniversary, the Carnegie Hall Professional Choral Workshop imported two top-notch high school choruses from North Carolina and Pennsylvania, to mix with the pros. Together, they all performed the monumental "Requiem" by 19th century Romantic composer Hector Berlioz. Read more ..
|Pedro DuTour||March 21st 2011|
Mexico has had a pretty bad rap in the American media in recent years. “Mexican shoot-out kills 18 as drug violence surges” and “AZ beheading tied to Mexican drug cartel” and “Evil on the border” are some of this week’s headlines. But where there is darkness, there also is light. Even amid the violence and desperation there spring up courage and compassion, especially in women.
First a good news / bad news story from Ciudad Juárez, reputedly one of the ten most dangerous cities in the world. Las Guerreras de Juárez (The Warriors of Juarez) are a group of ten Mexican bikers on pink choppers who spend Sundays traveling around Ciudad Juárez lending the poor a helping hand. Along with words of comfort, they dole out cash, medicines, food and clothes for unemployed, the elderly, young drug addicts, and single mothers. By day, the warriors are professional women -- teachers, businesswomen and travel agents. They’re not fighting drug trafficking, just the misery and poverty it generates. Read more ..
Islam's Against Christianity
On a sunny afternoon in the second week of February 2011, 45-year-old Azra Bibi, clad in black shawl, entered the reception of Jamia Naeemia with her ten year old son, a leading Sunni-Barelvi madrassa situated in a congested area of Lahore. Accompanied by a 45-year-old Muslim witness, Chaudhry Muhammad Islam, Azra a recent convert to Islam along with her six children asked for the imam of the Jamia. She has come here to get proper documents to prove in the court that she was no longer a Christian.
The young receptionist at Jamia Naeemia talks to the principal on telephone opens the side drawer of his dented metal table and pulls out a two-inch-thick book wrapped in a blue cover. He finds a blank page and starts writing her details. The book is a registry used to keep record of religious conversions to Islam. One book is enough to record 100 cases of conversions. A newly built wooden cabinet brimming with many such books is used to store the record. Officials at the madrassa say the number of people converting from other religions, especially Christianity, to Islam is on the rise here. At least 50 to 60 Christians embrace Islam each month by signing a white and green paper on the book declaring that they accept Islam without any greed or pressure and promise to ‘remain in the religion of Islam for the rest of the life’, and will try to spend life according to the principles of Islam. Read more ..
|Greg Flakus||March 14th 2011|
Attorneys in Washington and Guatemala are seeking legal compensation for victims of experiments by U.S. doctors in Guatemala in the 1940s that involved the deliberate infection of around 700 people with syphilis. U.S. officials have already denounced the experiments and apologized to the victims, but they have not yet established a way to compensate the victims and their families.
A Washington, D.C. law firm sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder this week asking that some system be established to handle claims for people deliberately infected with syphilis in Guatemala more than half a century ago. One of the attorneys involved in preparing the case, Piper Hendricks, says there is a deadline for Holder to respond.
“Right now, what we have done is send a letter to Attorney General Holder asking for a response from the U.S. government," said Hendricks. "If there is no response by Friday we will be filing the complaint on Monday.” Read more ..
Malawai on Edge
|James Butty||March 14th 2011|
Voice of America
|Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika|
In Malawi, lecturers at Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi, have defied a directive by President Bingu wa Mutharika to return to class Monday.
The lecturers have not been teaching for nearly four weeks protesting what they call “interference in their academic freedom.”
Malawi Inspector General of Police Peter Mukhito summoned associate political science professor Blessings Chinsinga over a lecture the professor gave which drew parallels between Malawi's current fuel crisis and the uprisings that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt. Read more ..
Edge of Terrorism
|Roderick Samson||March 7th 2011|
Thousands of Christians on March 3 took to the streets in protest in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Layyah, Khushpur and other Christian population areas to protest the brutal assassination of Federal Minister for Minority Affairs Shahbaz Bhatti in Islamabad.
The protesting Christians were holding banners and placards and they also chanted anti- terrorism slogans. In Islamabad, Father Anwer Patras Gill started with a prayer for Shahbaz Bhatti and the grieving family. The Christian community blocked the road towards Islamabad, burnt tyres and demanded immediate arrest of the culprits, they had banners stating "Anyone who speaks the truth is unsafe", " Bhatti your blood is the begining of a revolution." Read more ..
Internet on the Edge
|Peter Fedynsky||February 28th 2011|
The Internet and social media are proving to be a double-edged sword. While they expand the possibilities of commerce and information-sharing, they are also used by terrorists to recruit members, to promote hate, and even to reveal ways to make bombs. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Jewish human rights organization, has been tracking potential online violence and issued a report in New York City Thursday entitled 'Digital Terrorism and Hate 2011'”
The report, issued on DVD, documents how terrorists and hate groups use such digital technologies as the Internet, smart phone apps, Skype, YouTube and e-books to not only distribute hate messages, but to act on them as well. Read more ..
A Thirsty World
|Maryanne George||February 28th 2011|
University of Michigan
Cynthia Koenig knows that by reinventing the wheel she could change the world. In a few months, she hopes to make a difference in India.
Koenig, a graduate student at the University of Michigan, created the WaterWheel, a 20-gallon rolling water barrel and Wello, the business that distributes it in developing countries, where clean water is scarce.
After graduation this spring from U-M’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Koenig plans to launch a pilot program in Rajasthan, India to test the WaterWheel’s social impact and health benefits. Her goal is to sell 5,000 wheels in 12 months, positively impacting the lives of 40,000 people. She is working with an Indian company to manufacture the wheel. Read more ..
|Laura Bailey||February 21st 2011|
A Caribbean-born black person living in the United States will most likely be healthier than a U.S.- born Caribbean black person, according to a new national study on ethnic differences in health among the American black population.
University of Michigan researchers examined the relationships among ethnicity, nativity, depressive symptoms and physical health in the two largest groups of American blacks: African American and Caribbean blacks, said Derek Griffith, assistant professor in the U-M School of Public Health and lead author of the study.
African Americans, Caribbean-born blacks who now live in the United States and U.S.-born Caribbean blacks had significantly different self-ratings of their health situations. Read more ..
Congo on Edge
|Diego DiGhero||February 21st 2011|
"It is very likely a transaction, that for some reason, there has been a hitch and that has helped to confirm the involvement of the Congolese military in the illegal exploitation of Congolese mineral resources," said Fr. Loris Cattani in an interview with the FIDES news service. Rev. Cattani is a Catholic missionary and leader of the Network for Peace in the Congo. He commented on the detention of an aircraft at the airport of Goma, capital of North Kivu (eastern Democratic Republic of Congo). Read more ..
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